Your hair follicles are living organs and taking good care of the skin around them has long been the key to a full and thick head of hair. Hair follicles are crucially important as they support the thick, terminal hairs that make up the visible part of our hair. Once damaged, hair follicles are quite difficult to mend. Without healthy scalp skin and hair follicles, your hair can lose colour, volume, thickness and texture. Understanding the causes of skin and hair follicle damage can help you combat the issues that lead to hair loss.
Here is an overview of two of the most common causes of hair follicle damage, and a look at some ways to treat them.
Folliculitis is the medical name for a range of conditions that all involve one core element – an inflammation of the hair follicles. Folliculitis is particularly dangerous to your hair because, if left untreated, it can lead to hair follicles permanently closing up (developing painful scarring in the process), leading to unnecessary and irreversible hair loss.
Folliculitis is the result of, in most cases, bacterial or fungal infections. These infections cause the body’s natural defence mechanisms to activate and target the follicles, where the pathogens are typically located. Follicles can be enlarged with pus and dead biological matter, resulting in characteristic swelling and bumps.
Folliculitis can commonly occur in individuals with curly hair who shave or wax incorrectly, resulting in infection to damaged follicles; this is known as pseudofolliculitis barbae. Some of the more common symptoms include:
- Irritated, painful skin
- Swelling of the skin
- Bumps or pimples developing on the skin
- Development of crusty blisters around skin follicles
Usually these forms of folliculitis are relatively innocuous, but if they persist or recur over a significant period of time (months), they can lead to other complications such as fevers. If this occurs, it is important to consult a medical professional immediately. A medical professional may prescribe antibiotics or antifungal medications, depending on the cause of the inflammation.
Another fairly common cause of permanent damage to hair follicles is through the excessive pulling or twisting of hair, which can lead to follicles closing prematurely and the gradual receding of the hairline.
The excessive pulling or twisting of hair can lead to a form of hair loss known as traction alopecia. This form of hair loss is completely physical (rather than the result of underlying genetic causes). Even though there are no other associated clinical symptoms, this form of hair loss can still leave a serious dent in your self-confidence.
This form of hair loss is primarily caused by lifestyle factors like hairstyle (wearing the hair tightly in ponytails, braids or buns), which, over the years, can put unnecessary strain on the follicles. Similarly and protective headgear (such as hats and helmets) can also put enormous tension on the follicles over time, causing follicles to prematurely close.
Luckily, if caught early enough, the damage can be reversed and the follicles will heal; otherwise, other treatments are necessary.
How Can I Treat Damaged Hair Follicles?
In cases of permanent damage, hair transplants are the most effective solution with a near universal success rate. They work by transplanting healthy follicles, that exist elsewhere on the crown, to parts of the skin that have sustained severe damage.
However, if hair loss is diagnosed early, there are a number of methods that can be employed to treat damaged follicles. PRP stem cell therapies have shown incredibly promising results. This method of treatment injects the problem area with growth factors (which act like instructions for the body to direct resources for healing). Similarly, low level laser therapy combined with Minoxidil stimulates blood flow around damaged skin, moving nutrients and oxygen to those areas where they are most required, resulting in unprecedented follicular regeneration.
If you are still unsure of what is causing your hair loss, get in contact with industry leading Advanced Hair Studio for a complimentary hair check; we can get to the root of your hair loss.
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